Archive for the ‘bhu’ Category

ITBHU – Alma Mater

August 21, 2007

Alma Mater

 

 

 

ITBHU  

 

Institute of Technology

 

Banaras Hindu University

 

Varanasi

 

India

 

 

       

On what basis do you judge an educational institution – an Engineering College or a B-School? In today’s world there is just one criterion – market value – the starting salaries and campus placement the students get – the more outrageously astronomical the pay packets, and the greater the percentage of lucrative campus placements – the better the institution. And with the increasing commercialization of education, many institutes blatantly compete, advertise, and focus on these materialistic aspects to attract students – it’s a rat race.

 

   

I feel the cardinal yardstick for appraising the true merit of an educational institution is the value-addition it instills in its alumni – and I’m not talking of utility and materialistic values alone; but more importantly the inculcation and enhancement of intrinsic and intangible higher values. The student should feel he or she has changed for the better, professionally and personally; and so should other stakeholders observing the student from the outside be able to discern the value enhancement.

     

 

 

I studied for my B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering at ITBHU from 1972 to 1977 (first batch IIT JEE) and I experienced the well-rounded value addition I have mentioned above. Later in life, being academically inclined, I continued studying, completed many courses, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, an Engineering and Technology Post Graduation [M.Tech.] at a premier IIT and even taught for many years at prestigious academic institutions of higher learning, but I shall always cherish my days at ITBHU the most. I knew I was a better man, in my entirety, having passed through the portals of ITBHU, and I’m sure those scrutinizing me from the outside felt the same way.

 

 

 

ITBHU was amalgamated by integrating three of the country’s oldest and best engineering colleges: BENCO ( Banaras Engineering College ) – the first in the Orient, and certainly in India , to introduce the disciplines of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, MINMET – the pioneer in Mining and Metallurgy in India , and College of Technology – the first to start Chemical and Ceramic Engineering. Indeed these three institutions were the harbingers of industrialization in our country.

   

 

In my time ITBHU was indeed a center of excellence, an apt institution to study in, and a lovely place to live in. The vast verdant lush green semi-circular campus at the southern end of Varanasi , the largest university campus I have ever seen, with its pleasant and relaxed atmosphere was ideal for student life. And being a part of a premier university afforded one a consummate multidisciplinary experience.

    

 

It was a delightful and fulfilling experience I will always cherish – learning from erudite and totally dedicated Professors, who were authorities in their fields of specialization, amidst excellent academic facilities and ambience, elaborate labs and workshops, lush green campus, well-designed comfortable hostels, delicious food, expansive sports fields and facilities for all types of sports, the beautiful swimming pool, the unique well-stocked and intellectually inspiring Gaekwad library, and the exquisite temple that added a spiritual dimension to the scholarly ambiance. One could learn heritage and foreign languages, fine arts, music, indology, philosophy, yoga, pursue hobbies like numismatics – the avenues for learning were mind-boggling. The idyllic environs of BHU helped one develop a philosophical attitude to life.

   

 

Like all premier institutes ITBHU was fully residential, which fostered camaraderie and facilitated lifelong friendships amongst the alumni. I can never forget those delightful moments in Dhanrajgiri, Morvi, Vishwakarma, Vishveswarayya and CV Raman hostels, mouthwatering memories of the Lavang Lata and Lassi at Pehelwan’s in Lanka, the Lal Peda opposite Sankat Mochan, and the delicious wholesome cuisine of the city, and the cycle trips all over Varanasi, Sarnath, and even across the holy and sacred Ganga on the pontoon bridge to watch the Ram Lila at Ramnagar.

   

 

Way back then, in the nineteen seventies, ITBHU was a wonderful place to study engineering and live one’s formative years in. I wonder what my dear alma mater is like now!

 

        

VIKRAM KARVE

 

   

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

   

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

   

 

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

      

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

               

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Malpua and Kheer

June 15, 2007

MALPUA AND KHEER

[a sumptuous delicious breakfast]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

  

The rains have arrived in Pune. No, not the heavy monsoon showers one experiences in Mumbai, but the characteristic Puneri drizzle [pir-pir] with a shower once in a while. Whilst on my evening walk on ITI Road in Aundh last evening I was suddenly caught unawares by one of these sporadic showers so I ducked into the nearest shelter I could find – the basement of the Ozone Mall where I discovered a sweet shop called Kadhai. The brisk walk, the rainy season and the tempting array of sweets and savories on display made my mouth water and created an appetite in me, and I was wondering what to eat, when I discovered one of my favorite sweets “Malpua” displayed on the Menu Chart hung on the wall. This was indeed a pleasant surprise [since one doesn’t get to see much of Malpua in Pune] and brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of the delicious Malpua-Kheer we savored and devoured with gusto as a nourishing wholesome breakfast after bouts of heavy exercise on cold winter Sunday mornings long back in Banaras. Those were indeed the good old gastronomic days of high calorie energizing winter breakfasts like Malpua-Kheer and piping hot Jalebi or Lavang Lata with freshly boiled thick creamy Doodh [Milk] dipped and eaten the same way as one eats khari biscuits with Irani Chai.

  

I asked for Malpua and Kheer, but there was no Kheer, so I ordered a plate of Malpua and eagerly put a piece of the rich brown syrupy Malpua in my mouth. It was terrible – the Malpua tasted like boiled rubber drenched in sugar syrup. It did not melt in the mouth, or dissolve gracefully on the palate, but disintegrated into brittle fragments and left a stodgy aftertaste.

  

The soft fluffy succulent lusciousness, the sweet-sour tang of banana and curd fermentation, the spicy fragrance of cardamom, and most important, the distinctive taste and classic flavor of saunf [badishep] which is the hallmark of authentic Malpua, were conspicuous by their absence.

  

I was so disappointed that I called the “Maharaj” and asked him how he had managed to bungle and botch this exquisite delicacy and churn out this inexcusably appalling stuff masquerading as Malpua.

  

“Simple,” he said, “Boil enough Milk till it becomes Rabdi, mix in Maida and make a smooth batter, fry the pancakes in pure Ghee and soak in sugar syrup.”

  

“Just Milk and Maida? That’s not how you make Malpua,” I told him, “What about the Banana, Saunf, Cardamom, Spices, Coconut, Dry Fruit, Curds…?”

  

“This is the Rajasthani Style Malpua,” he said sheepishly and disappeared.

  

There are many versions of Malpua all over India – I have tasted the Rajasthani, Bengali, Karnataka, Maharashtrian, Gujarati, MP and UP versions. Then there are improvisations like potato malpua, pineapple malpua, orange malpua et al. There is also the inimitable and matchless heavy duty invigorating and energizing hearty Malpua, braced and fortified with eggs, prepared in the evenings and nights during the holy month of Ramzan by Suleman Mithaiwala at Mohammed Ali Road near Minara Masjid in Mumbai. It is a meal in itself, but if you want you really want to do justice start off with Kababs, relish the Malpua, and top up with Phirnee.

  

Tell me, in which genre of cuisine should Malpua be classified? I’ll tell you – genuine Malpua is Bihari Cuisine. That’s right, no doubt about it, Malpua is a speciality of Bihar, like Khaja, and the best authentic Malpua is made Bihari Style, and this is how a Bihari friend of mine, an expert cook, taught me to make Malpua, long back.

  

Make a smooth batter with Maida, pinch of soda and salt, banana pulp, milk, cardamom [choti elaichi] pods and powder, a small pinch of nutmeg powder, freshly grated coconut, powdered and whole saunf, beaten curds and water. Beat well with your hands till the batter becomes light and fluffy. Cover and leave aside for an hour or more for a bit of fermentation.

  

Prepare 1:1 sugar syrup seasoned with cardamom and cloves. Sprinkle a little rosewater, saffron or essence, if you want. Keep the syrup hot, at least warm, to facilitate easy ingress into the malpua and to keep it soft and succulent.

  

Now mix and whip well with your hands, adding water if required, to get a smooth batter of pouring consistency, and deep-fry the pua [pancake] in pure ghee till nice and brown, soft and cooked, not too crisp. When ready take out the fried pua , drain excess ghee, and dip the pua  in the hot sugar syrup completely for a minute to enable just enough permeation but obviate over-sogginess. With the sugar syrup absorbed, the pua has now become malpua and is ready to be eaten with deliciously sweet lip smacking Kheer. [Now don’t tell me you don’t know how to make delicious Kheer!]

  

Malpua must be eaten with Kheer. This is not a dessert, or snack, but a complete nourishing breakfast in its entirety. The luscious wholesome combination is heavenly and you will be overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling of blissful satiation.

  

Dear fellow Foodie – would you be so good as to tell me where I can find and savor genuine authentic Malpua and Kheer.

   

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

  

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

  vikramkarve@sify.com     

Lavang Lata

February 21, 2007

HERITAGE CUISINE
Lavang Lata at Babumosai

By

VIKRAM KARVE

“Heritage Cuisine” – sounds good isn’t it?

You may presume that this pompous term refers to pretentious traditional high-brow cuisine which adorns the tables of the classes!

In my vocabulary “heritage cuisine” is high-falutin gobbledygook for simple staple down-to-earth local street-food relished by the masses. Like Vada Pav (Mumbai’s “Heritage Burger”), or Puneri Misal, or Kulcha Chole, Katchi Dabeli, Bhel, Kathi Kababs, Baida Roti, Malpua – the list is endless.

There is a delicious sweetmeat called “Lavang Lata” which I tasted for the first time and relished piping hot at Pehelwan’s at the end of Lanka near BHU in Varanasi in the seventies. A cool Lassi ( in winter) or warm milk (in summer), both with dollops of rabdi added, topped up the gastronomic experience.

Later, in the eighties, I came across slightly different versions of Lavang Lata at various eateries, most notably Nathu at Bengali market in New Delhi. But these versions were nowhere close to Pehelwan’s Banarasi Lavang Lata.

Just imagine my surprise, when, during my walk last evening, I chanced upon a delectable Lavang Lata in an out-of-the-way unpretentious sweet shop called ‘Babumosai Bengali Sweets’ tucked away almost in obscurity, way off the beaten track, on Aundh Road on the way to Khadki in Pune.

Actually I was in search of Rasgullas. (Roshogollas, if you want it spelt that way). Having relocated from a ‘happening’ place like Churchgate in the heart of Mumbai to an obscure “back of the beyond” desolate place somewhere in the jungles on the banks of Mula river between Aundh and Sangvi, craving and wandering desperately in my search for ‘heritage food’, I hit the Aundh road past Spicer College towards Khadki, enjoying a refreshing walk between the expanse of the verdant Botanical Gardens and the foliage of Pune University, when in the first building I encountered on my left, I saw a nondescript signboard “Babumosai Bengali Sweets” (maybe the spelling ought to be ‘Babumoshai’) atop a deserted lackluster sweetshop.

There was no one in the shop and the lifeless atmosphere and uninspiring display almost put me off. But having come so far, I decided to give it a try and looked at the sweets on display in trays behind a glass counter – Rasgullas, Sandesh, Rajbhog, Gulab Jamuns, Malai Sandwiches – the ubiquitous ‘Bengali Sweets’; and suddenly a man came out carrying a tray of piping hot Lavang Latas, the very sight of which made my mouth water so much that I ordered one immediately.

I walked outside the shop, stood in the cool evening air, took a small bite of the Lavang Lata, rolled the syrupy hot piece on my eager salivated tongue and closed my eyes in order to enhance my gustatory experience.

I pressed the Lavang Lata upwards with my tongue against the palate, the roof of my mouth, and slowly it disintegrated releasing its heavenly flavour of nutmeg and cardamom. That’s the way you should enjoy Bengali sweetmeats – never bite, swallow and devour in a hurry. Don’t use your teeth; slowly, very slowly, just roll on your tongue and lightly press on the roof of your mouth till the delicacy melts releasing its luxurious flavour and divine fragrance into your gustatory and olfactory systems. And remember, keep your eyes closed, shut yourself to the outside world, focus on your tongue, internalize the experience and transcend to a state of delightful ecstasy, till you feel you are in seventh heaven. That’s the art of eating.

The Lavang Lata is perfect. Not sickly sweet, but tantalizingly tasty, with the subtle essence of its ingredients and seasoning coming through. The rabri and khoya, the raisins and dry fruits, the crispy sweet crust, the spices and most importantly, the exotic fortifying and stimulating taste of clove. It’s sheer bliss. The invigorating taste lingers on my tongue for a long long time , as if for eternity.

Just writing this is making my mouth water. And I am rushing to “Babumosai” once more – this time to sample the Rasgullas, maybe the Sandesh – and I’ll tell you all about it right here.

And I’ll keep writing about all the my experiences with “Heritage Cuisine” and the art of eating.

Dear fellow Foodie – do let me know if you enjoyed reading this.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com